How do you limit attachment to other people that you form intimate sexual relationships with?
I think this question comes with an assumption: that one wants to limit attachment to other sexual partners. I don’t necessarily operate that way in my relationship with other people. If I want to explore other connections with a sexual partner, whether that be emotional or social or spiritual, I would consider it, depending on how such a connection fits in with my current relationship(s) and other life stuff.
But, if you are operating from a foundation that says you should or want to limit those attachments and connections, these are my (philosophical, perhaps not super helpful) thoughts:
-Investigate your feelings toward what sex, love, and lust all mean to you. If you know that you are highly unlikely to enjoy casual sex, or that having sex at all with someone leads to deep feelings for someone else, and you’re trying to stay away from such feelings, perhaps casual sex isn’t your best route for connection with others. Perhaps, though, making boundaries for yourself around what those different things mean will make a difference in your ability to stay clear about how your experiences impact you.
-Similarly, being able to parse out your emotions clearly will help in compartmentalizing your sexual experiences from your romantic-sexual ones. If you can identify your feelings of lust and know that those are different than the feelings of love for a long term romantic partner, that may help in giving yourself a reality check on what your emotions are telling you.
-If you are already in new relationship energy (NRE) bliss, then it might also be a good time for a reality check: think the relationship and connection through. It’s hard to do when you are over the moon about someone and their energy, but as best you can, try to keep a level head and put the connection in perspective to the rest of your life.
-Define what “intimate” sex versus “casual” sex is for you. Perhaps try reframing some of your sexual experiences one way or another to see how it makes a difference in the attachments you feel.
-Define your boundaries. Boundaries are the things YOU get to set for yourself. Who gets access to your space, mind, heart, and body? When? Why? How? If you don’t want to let someone into your emotional world, you don’t have to. You can still be kind, but you don’t have to grant anyone and everyone access to your heart, including sexual partners.
-Think about why forming attachments to sexual partners is an undesirable consequence of the relationship. Forming an attachment doesn’t necessarily mean you owe that partner a commitment of some kind (except for those you have discussed and negotiated). Sure, it can hurt to have someone we are attached to leave or hurt us, but that is a risk we take through forming relationships, being vulnerable, and becoming attached to others.
-Conversely (or perhaps not), consider the Buddhist teaching that attachment leads to suffering. How can you love deeply, connect authentically, and yet also free yourself from expectations that a relationship look, act, or be a certain way? (I find the work of Byron Katie to be extremely helpful here)
Does anyone else have any other suggestions, insights, etc.?